HRDs call to release journalists held on criminal charges
Minsk — November 24, 2020
Ove the past week, the authorities have arrested three Belarusian journalists.
TUT.BY reporter Katsiaryna Barysevich was arrested on November 19 on suspicion of alleged disclosure of a medical secret of Raman Bandarenka, who was beaten to death on November 11 (Part 3, Article 178 of the Criminal Code). In a piece she authored, she cited the doctor’s words alleging absence of alcohol in Raman’s blood, which contradicted the official statements earlier voiced by the authorities.
Belsat TV journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Darya Chultsova were targeted in a criminal case of “organizing actions that grossly violate public order” (Article 342 of the Criminal Code) after a live broadcast from the place of the violent police crackdown on a peaceful protest in the Square of Change in Minsk on November 15.
In this regard, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, note that the persecution of journalists by the Belarusian authorities is connected with their exclusively peaceful exercise of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights norms, namely freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of information.
In this context, we consider their imprisonment to be arbitrary and politically motivated, and the journalists themselves to be political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.
In this regard, we, representatives of human rights organizations in Belarus, demand:
- Immediate and unconditional release of Katsiaryna Barysevich, Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova from custody and termination of criminal prosecution against them;
- Immediate release of all political prisoners and an end to political repression in the country.
Human Rights Center "Viasna"
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Initiative Group "Identity and Law"
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Belarusian Documentation Center
Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House